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The winds were light and pleasant in the castle’s garden. The giant castle walls kept the beautiful garden a peaceful haven for the royalty to enjoy. The large area had beautiful green grass with a pond by a tree and large sitting stones littered the garden. A person could spend an entire day there while only thinking an hour has passed. A peaceful kingdom, known as Arcadia, surrounded the castle. The people inhabiting Arcadia were a simple folk whom preferred peace to confrontation. However, they were also known as the bravest warriors on the battlefields.

Princess Ashley was picking flowers with her sister, Mary-Kate, on the beautiful summer’s day. They handled each flower delicately with the utmost care and as they bundled them up as gifts for the king and queen.

“I was thinking a nice stroll or ride in the nearby forest would be a fun activity for later this afternoon. Care to join me?” Mary-Kate asked her sister.

“Yes, that sounds like fun. I would prefer a stroll rather than a ride.” Ashley agreed.

“Perhaps Marc-Andre could accompany us, along with that cute friend of his.” Mary-Kate giggled.

The pair heard two people talking and noticed it was the Prince and his friend Brett, the knight Mary-Kate was talking about. The two ladies continued to pick their flowers as the two men walked up. Prince Marc-Andre spoke to Brett about the shaky relations Arcadia had with a neighboring kingdom. They had both recently returned from a mission to Galatea, in which they hoped to form an alliance.

Ashley and Mary-Kate ran to their brother and gave him a big hug. They had missed him the long two weeks he had been gone. They asked him how the voyage went and of the sights and sounds of the kingdom.

Marc-Andre explained that he and Brett were warmly welcomed by the Galateans and were well treated. Their king was skeptical about an alliance with another kingdom, but with the growing threat of an invasion by the dark Tiberians, an alliance seemed necessary. He and Brett then told the king that the Galateans did indeed want an alliance with Arcadia, but were not to be trusted too much.

Marc-Andre then reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful necklace he had bought in Galatea for his sister. It was made out of gold with a diamond heart as the pendant. Ashley thanked her brother and put the necklace on immediately. She twirled around and looked at every shining part of her new gift.

Brett reached behind his armor and pulled out a hair broach with a diamond-crusted butterfly with purple, pink and white colors. He walked over to Mary-Kate, whom was sitting on a stone, and kneeled down to her.

“I saw this in Galatea and thought you might like it.” He said, handing the broach over to her.

“I thank you, Brett, but I can’t accept, nor do I deserve, such a gift.” She said with a blush.

“No jewel could ever be as precious as you, Mary-Kate. I assure you, you deserve it.” Brett said.

She accepted the gift from Brett and put it in her hair. The broach shone brighter than ever in her blond hair, glistening in the sun’s light. She took one of the bouquets of flowers and gave it to Brett. Ashley did the same for her brother, Marc-Andre.

The four continued to talk and assembled the remaining bouquets together.

Prince Marc-Andre and his friend Brett have been friends since childhood. They have done everything together; hunt dragons, politics with other kingdoms, fought wars, defended the kingdom, ride horses and every imaginable childhood adventure.

Marc-Andre continued his studies as a prince to rule the kingdom as greatly and justly as his father has. He studied his father intensely as a child and developed his father’s sense of judgment and morals. Although he has spent time behind the books, Marc-Andre knows how to fight and defend his loved ones.

Brett has also studied politics, but was drawn to the sword from the first moment he laid eyes on one. He spent some time working at the blacksmith’s making swords and studied with the finest knight of Arcadia, at the time. When he was of age, the king knighted Brett. Brett is also a philosopher and is known to have written some poems from time to time, he serves as an aid to Marc-Andre on his quests.

The alarm rang through the kingdom from the bell towers of the kingdom churches. They alerted the peasants of an attack or incoming invasion force. All non-military person went home or to the safety of their shop and aided any fellow Arcadians seek shelter.

“Mary-Kate, take Ashley inside the castle.” Marc-Andre said. Mary-Kate nodded and helped Ashley gather the flower bouquets.

As Brett and Marc-Andre ran off to see what the alarm was about, Mary-Kate whispered the words to herself “Be careful.”

Chapter 2
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